Oct 09 2013
Vanderbilt’s Institute for Coffee Studies Examines Economic Prospects for Coffee Farmers in Guatemala
Economic prospects improved for small mountain farmers in Guatemala when consumers developed a taste for coffee brewed with beans grown at high altitude, according to a new study from the Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies. A passion for sipping the “Strictly Hard Bean” brew grown above 4,500 feet has led to improvements in the modest living conditions of these indigenous Maya growers, Vanderbilt researchers Edward F. Fischer and Bart Victor found.
Fischer and Victor, through the Institute for Coffee Studies, recently published a study published in Latin America Research Review, which was co-funded by Anacafé, the Guatemalan national coffee producers association. The paper sought to examine how the desire for a better future steered small producers toward the newly emerging market for high altitude beans. They found that economic prospects improved for small mountain farmers in Guatemala when consumers developed a taste for coffee brewed with beans grown at high altitude. The next question for study is how these newer coffee growers will weather economic tests, such as the spreading coffee rust disease that threatens the crops, and how such threats will impact the cost and demand for high-end coffee. The Vanderbilt Institute for Coffee Studies was established in 1999 in the Department of Psychiatry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The institute moved to CLAS in 2007 to expand its mission beyond the biomedical aspects of coffee to include historical, literary, sociological, and economic importance.